The keys to reducing the risk of Lyme disease are to:

  • Avoid ticks in the areas where you live and work
  • Protect yourself from getting a tick on your body

Reduce or Avoid Tick Habitats

Reducing or avoiding tick habitats can reduce your chances of being bitten. To do this:

  • Avoid moist, shaded, wooded, or brushy areas.
  • When walking in the outdoors, stay on cleared, well-traveled paths, and walk in the center of trails to avoid overgrown grass and brush.
  • Avoid sitting on the ground or on stonewalls.
  • Remove leaf litter, brush, and woodpiles from around your home and the edges of your yard.
  • Mow the grass often.
  • Discourage animals that carry ticks from coming onto your property.

Wear Proper Clothing

Proper clothing can help protect you from tick bites. When spending time outdoors in areas where there may be ticks, you should:

  • Wear light-colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. This makes it easier for you to see any ticks that may get on you.
  • Tuck shirt into pants and pants into socks. Wear a hat and enclosed shoes. This makes it more difficult for ticks to get onto your skin.
  • Put your clothes in the dryer for about 20 minutes after spending time outdoors. This will kill any unseen ticks.

Use Insect Repellent

Apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothes and exposed skin. Carefully follow directions for use. Insect repellents containing permethrin can be applied to pants, socks, and shoes. When you return inside, wash repellents off your skin.

Check for and Remove Ticks

The tick usually must be attached to your skin for at least 24-48 hours for the bacteria to get into your bloodstream. To ensure quick removal of any attached ticks you should:

  • Do frequent tick checks, including a naked, full body exam when returning from the outdoors.
  • If you find any ticks, do the following:
    • With fine-point tweezers, grab the tick at the place where it is attached, next to the skin.
    • Gently pull the tick straight out.
    • Save the tick in a small vial and mark the date.
    • Wash your hands and clean the tweezers with alcohol.
    • Report the bite to your doctor.
    • Watch carefully for any signs of Lyme disease, especially a rash at the site of the bite and/or fever; symptoms usually appear within 30 days of the bite.

Preventive Antibiotics

Doctors vary in their recommendations concerning taking preventive antibiotics following a tick bite. Antibiotic treatment given within 72 hours of a tick bite has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of developing Lyme disease. If bitten by a tick, you should check with your doctor to see if taking one or more doses of antibiotic is appropriate for you.